The 770th urs celebrations of great Sufi saint Hazrat Usman Marwandi, better known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, began on Tuesday at his shrine in Sehwan Sharif town of Jamshoro district.
Adviser to Chief Minister on Religious Affairs Fayyaz Ali Butt inaugurated the urs celebrations by laying a floral wreath and offering Fateha on the grave of the saint.
Thousands of people from across the country gathered in Sehwan Sharif to pay homage to the great Sufi saint. This year, there are no coronavirus-related restrictions for the people visiting the shrine. Tight security measures have been taken to keep a close eye on terrorists, subversive elements and miscreants to avoid any untoward incident.
Full-scale attendance and celebrations have been allowed this time after a gap of two years. In 2019 and 2020, a limited number of devotees and officials concerned were allowed to visit the shrine with strict COVID-19 restrictions to ensure social distancing.
Traditional and religious rituals were also scaled down to only Dhamal and mystic dance, rendition and recitals by small groups of devotees.
The provincial government and district authorities expect that more than 2.5 million people will attend the three-day celebrations. Among the thousands of people present in Sehwan are mostly regular visitors coming from across the country. A caravan of 40 such male and female devotees and another one of 15 travelled to the Qalandar’s shrine from Bahawalpur and Multan, respectively, on foot.
The local administration has imposed Section 144, disallowing entry of any type of vehicles within the city’s limits and barring bathing in the Aral Wah, an irrigation channel.
The Pakistan Navy divers and other personnel have been posted along Aral Wah to stop people from bathing in the channel and to rescue anyone in case of any mishap. Local divers would also volunteer to rescue people.
Hyderabad DIG Syed Pir Mohammad Shah has established his camp in Sehwan to supervise the security plan for the urs. Under the plan, 4,500 officers and personnel drawn from Dadu, Jamshoro and Hyderabad districts have been deployed in the city and a control room has been established at the shrine to monitor the security situation through 200 CCTV cameras. Rangers personnel have also been deployed at sensitive points. A total of 190 traffic police officers and personnel have been deployed to ensure smooth flow of vehicular traffic along the roads leading to Sehwan.
Security across Sehwan is beefed up during urs celebrations ever since the February 16, 2017, bomb blast in the shrine that had left 90 people dead and 300 others wounded. Each person entering the city from any point is frisked and the luggage offloaded from vehicles is checked by police. People entering the shrine from any gate also undergo security check and frisking.